Charleston-via-Kentucky Brooks Reitz knows a thing or two about small-batch food. As the owner of Jack Rudy Cocktail Co., Brooks built a strong following for his particular brand of tonic that makes for a full-proof gin-and-tonic. Next up, Brooks, who we recognized as one of the Most Stylish Southerners this year, opens the doors to Leon’s Oyster Shop, a raw bar, fried chicken, beer, and champagne spot on King Street. Here, Brooks shares his favorite bites made regionally by his comrades around the South.
Bourbon Barrel Foods: Matt Jamie is a genius in my mind, and his domestically produced soy sauce, made from a 100-percent Kentucky crop of soybeans, rivals the big brands that we see in most grocery stores. Aging the sauce in old bourbon barrels gives this soy sauce a distinctively Southern twist. Great for marinades.
Sweeteeth Chocolate: Out of North Charleston, Johnnie Battles labors lovingly over his small production chocolate bars. Sea salt and caramel is a time-tested combo, and his Sea is for Caramel bar gets the ‘ooze’ of the caramel just right. If you don’t eat it fast enough, you’ll be wearing it.
Bull’s Bay Saltworks: I was given a jar of Bull’s Bay Saltworks sea salt last year. It’s harvested in Bull’s Bay, South Carolina, and sits close at hand when I’m in the kitchen. I use it to top soups, salads, spreads, and dessert.
Westbrook Brewing: Westbrook’s operations are based in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, and their brewery is an impressive setup for such a young venture. Edward Westbrook tends to favor high volume, funky and experimental—often to great results. One of my favorites is his Gose; it’s sour, salty, and bright, and it makes a proper Summertime sipper always. It’s not for everyone, I’ve learned—but it’s for me.
Cannonborough Beverage Co.: Three jerks (soda jerks, of course) run this small concern in Charleston. Emphasizing fresh fruits and natural sweeteners, they make—hands down—the best soda I’ve ever had. I’ve been following their growth since they started, and while you can now purchase their kegged soda in our region, I look forward to the day their sodas find their way into a bottle and across the South.
What are your favorite Southern artisan foods?